Scott Hanselman

iPhone and iScott and iComputerZen.com

January 11, 2007 Comment on this post [10] Posted in Musings
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Sure, I want an iPhone, and yes, it's wonderful.  However, the interesting news today, IMHO, is Cisco's response and lawsuit. You probably know that they trademarked "iPhone" 11 years ago and have an iPhone product.

Apparently Apple has been in negotiations on and off, most recently very "on" to use the iPhone name, but launched the new product without finalizing the deal.

Everyone'll have their opinion about this, but the real story is how Cisco responded in a very "Web 2.0" way on their blog. The response is clear, transparent, thoughtful and avoids legalese. They have left their comments open to the public. Certainly they are trying to garner public support and I suspect they've done just that.

Frankly, it makes Apple look like d*cks, which is hard to do. I recommend you read the response. It's a good example of how to skillfully use blogs to manage the perception of your company, even if you're a giant faceless company like Apple or Cisco.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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January 11, 2007 19:49

I think Apple is getting arrogant. They want to trademark 'Pod' and sue anyone who uses 'Pod' in a product/service name related to computers.

Any decent responsible company does trademark name research before releasing a product to make sure the name is not trademarked.

Apple is either careless, ignorant or doesn't care. It has to be the last one.
January 11, 2007 20:31
Apple has been working with Cisco since 2001 on the trademark, and here we are 6 years later and no final deal. I'm guessing Cisco wanted too much money or wanted to retain too many rights to the name. I'm sure the Apple legal staff is tired of this battle.

Here is my take:

Apple fans predicted the phone will be named 'iPhone'. Apple knows it cannot legally use that trademarked name unless they reach a deal with Cisco.

Therefore, Apple announces the 'iPhone', starts the legal work, then five months later drops the 'iPhone' name in favor of some new naming strategy for their entire line of consumer electronic products will share (xPhone, xPod, etc). The layperson still knows the product as the 'iPhone' and Apple gets the retains the benefit of the name. Any legal retribution for the 5 months of legal work will be worth the press.
January 11, 2007 21:10
From the Cisco blog entry it looks like Cisco wanted to retain the right of an IP phone and Apple could have the cell phone portion. I imagine Apple would not want to limit themselves like that.

I agree with John that Apple just annouced under the iPhone name and will change it in the near future
January 12, 2007 3:33
Strange that you assume Apple didn't do their homework on this. I can't imagine a micromanaging Jobs not thinking this issue through. I assume that it will all work out in the end, Cisco may own the iPhone rights, but it really is Apple that put i<anything> on the map for the average consumer.

No comment on the potential partnerships with both Google (for the maps/gps features) and Yahoo (free mail forwarding for the iPhone). That's the interesting subject here, IMHO.
January 12, 2007 4:13
Come on, I've had the same Google maps functionality for 18 months on my blackberry.
January 12, 2007 16:43
I can get GPS on my Windows Mobile phone. Costs extra money, but I can get. Moot point there.
Free email? I can connect to ANY email provider - free or otherwise. Moot point #2.
Maps? Moot point #3.

Apple made mistake in thinking they can just "take" any name just because they tack an "i" on the front a common word. At least Microsoft was creative in naming their media player. Arrogancy runs rampant at most major companies, Apple is just making it the rule.

The only major difference between the Apple iPhone and the Cisco iPhone to me appears to be the IP functionality. That could cause a losing point for Cisco. And how difficult would it be to add that functionality into a cell phone? Apple would have to just avoid that forever.
January 12, 2007 20:50
"it makes Apple look like d*cks, which is hard to do." Did you see the Mac Jerk vs PC Nerd ads? Not only is it not hard to do, Apple was doing it themselves.
DJ
January 13, 2007 2:23
Easy guys, I think you misunderstood me, I wasn't commenting on the technology that Apple is adding in from Google and Yahoo, its the way the partnership was presented. First I was surprised that Google and Yahoo were both interested in supporting Apple with x and y technologies. Didn't Jobs talk of Google and Apple merging at least make you wonder a bit if that might happen? After reading this http://www.pbs.org/cringely/ - perhaps the phone will just wind up being renamed the Apple Phone?
January 13, 2007 6:56
From the Cisco blog post:

"Fundamentally we wanted an open approach. We hoped our products could inter operate in the future."

...

"Our goal was collaboration"

In other words, Cisco wanted to piggy back on the success of the Apple Phone in exchange for the "iPhone" name. While there's absolutely nothing at all wrong with their request, I think it also gives Apple a good excuse for failing to come to an agreement with them.
January 16, 2007 18:09
Apple's tactics here remind me of a saying:

"My wife wanted to get a dog and I didn't. We compromised and got a dog."

They can't say they want to negotiate for the iPhone name and then when they don't like the terms of the negotiation just use the iPhone name anyway.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.